How to become a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers plan, design, construct, operate and maintain roads, bridges, dams, water supply schemes, sewerage systems, transportation systems, harbours, canals, dockyards, airports, railways, factories and large buildings.

Personal requirements of a Civil Engineer

  • Able to identify, analyse and solve problems
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Aptitude for computing and design
  • Practical and creative
  • Able to work without supervision
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to accept responsibility
  • Willing to contribute and adhere to the safety requirements of the operation

Education & Training for a Civil Engineer

To become a civil engineer you usually have to complete a degree in engineering at university with a major in civil engineering. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry and physics are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Additional Information

Students may be eligible to join Engineers Australia as student members. Upon graduation, after providing a certified copy of their degree, they may apply for graduate membership of the institution without further examination.

Duties & Tasks of a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers:

  • investigate sites to determine the most suitable foundation for a proposed construction
  • research and advise on the best engineering solution to meet a client's needs and budget
  • prepare engineering calculations required for the design of projects, and supervise the drafting of plans
  • produce detailed designs and documentation for the construction and implementation of civil engineering projects
  • organise the delivery of materials, plant machinery and equipment needed for the construction project and supervise labour
  • develop detailed programs for the coordination of site activities
  • work with other engineers, architects, landscape architects and environmental scientists
  • assist government bodies in preparing yearly works programs (such as work on car parks, drainage, roads, aerodromes or sewerage systems) within set budgets
  • operate computers to assist with the design of civil engineering projects
  • coordinate and direct research, development and testing of materials, processes or systems related to civil engineering works
  • research, advise on and plan the control and minimisation of air, water and solid waste pollution, and the management of water resources
  • supervise the testing and commissioning of completed works
  • analyse and interpret reports on loading, labour, productivity, quality, materials and performance
  • analyse risks associated with natural disasters (including cyclones, earthquakes, fires and floods), and design structures and services to meet appropriate standards
  • arrange for geological and geophysical investigations and carry out feasibility studies.

Working conditions for a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers may work in offices or on site. They may be required to work long hours and meet strict deadlines while working under minimal supervision. Civil engineers deal with various professional, skilled and semi-skilled people. Consulting and contracting engineers often travel interstate, and some travel overseas. It may be necessary for some civil engineers to change residence every few years as their work takes them from one major engineering site to another.

Employment Opportunities for a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers work in a range of areas, including structural engineering, water resources, foundation engineering, transport, town planning and construction. They are employed by government departments and agencies, municipal authorities, civil engineering contractors, consulting engineers and mining companies. There may also be opportunities for self-employment as a contractor or consultant. Much of the work previously undertaken by government departments is contracted out to consulting engineers. A small proportion of engineers work in research activities and teach in industrial, government and university research establishments.


Airport Engineer

Highway Engineer

Railway Engineer

Water Resources Engineer

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT 1.1%

NSW 31.8%

NT 0.4%

QLD 21.7%

SA 5.1%

TAS 0.9%

VIC 29.4%

WA 9.6%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 85%

Female 15%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 6%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 5.2%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 8.8%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 55.3%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 23.2%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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